One Time is Too Many: Genocide and Rwanda

Any mention of Rwanda seems to evoke the Genocide there fourteen years ago. Since then, we’ve had at least a couple more (Darfur, Kosovo), but before Rwanda, there was Cambodia. Dith Pran, the Journalist from The Killing Fields said on his deathbed: One time is too many. Genocide pops up in the strangest places. Reading this travel account of a couple of Jewish backpackers in Germany is telling. It starts out easy enough.

There was a great divide between my generation and the ones that had lived through the Holocaust. It was their identity. To me, it was a history lesson.

But ends with this haunting image:

Near the exit was a beautiful bronze sculpture that read, “Never again.” Beyond the sculpture sat fifteen orange tents. There were fifty Rwandan refugees sitting in the dirt and cooking lunch. There was a cardboard sign in front of them with the words: “You said never again.

Is Dith Pran’s dream impossible? Will we always have genocide? I don’t know. I’m pessimistic enough to think that people will always suffer from irrational hatred. I suspect that the institutional intolerance that Rwanda is currently using is not the right way to get fix the problem in the long term. Now-a-days, Rwanda sacks officials for believing the wrong thing. It may work for now, but as long as people continue to believe the “genocide ideology“, it won’t matter if they lose their jobs, the beliefs persist and people will continue to elect people who think the wrong thing. Here we are, sixty years after the end of WWII, and Germany still hasn’t managed to cleanse itself of racists. I suspect it takes something more subtle. And it takes more time. There is one comment on that last link, though, that gives a note of caution: “He who says he knows the way, does not know the way.” — Lao-Tze

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